(New York, NY) – At a press conference today in New York City, clergy abuse survivors and their lawyers called out Cardinal Timothy Dolan for covering up for two Archdiocese of New York priests facing multiple allegations of child sexual abuse and allowing one of those priests to remain in ministry.
Attorneys Jeff Anderson and Mike Reck of Jeff Anderson & Associates called on Cardinal Dolan to put the names of the two priests – Msgr. John Paddack and Msgr. George C. Murdock – on the Archdiocese of New York’s list of credibly accused clergy. Anderson’s firm represents eight clients who allege they were abused by Msgr. Paddack and one client, a current priest of the Archdiocese, who alleges abuse by Msgr. Murdock, who is dead. Msgr. Paddack is still in ministry in the Archdiocese, at the Church of Notre Dame in Manhattan despite multiple sexual abuse allegations. Anderson and Reck said Dolan refuses to put the two priests’ names on its public list of credibly accused clergy after receiving reports of several allegations against both.
Joseph Caramanno and Msgr. Paddack
Joseph Caramanno, 34, who is alleging that he was sexually abused as a minor by Msgr. Paddack, spoke about the abuse publicly for the first time at the press conference. “I’m here because Fr. John Paddack should not be in ministry today,” Caramanno said.
Caramanno said he never thought he would be able to tell anyone about his abuse or speak publicly about it. But after learning that there were others alleging abuse by Paddack he knew he had to come forward.
“You can’t sleep at night, you’re having flashbacks and you wonder what can help,” Caramanno said. “And I can say this has been a help for me, and I hope that it can inspire others to get that peace that they deserve as well.”
Reck said he was present when another survivor reported abuse by Paddack to the Archdiocese and to the district attorney in 2012. But the Archdiocese allowed Paddack, who has worked at various Archdiocesan parishes and schools since 1984, to continue in ministry. Anderson and Reck said that the Archdiocese kept its abuser priests’ identities secret at the expense of child safety. In an attempt to fill what he perceived to be a void of public disclosure of the identities of abuser priests in the Archdiocese, Anderson and his firm released a list of 112 names of Archdiocese clergy accused of sexual misconduct with minors in February. Msgr. Paddack’s name was on that list. In April, Cardinal Dolan released a list of 126 Archdiocesan clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor. Msgr. Paddack’s name was not on the list. Nor was Msgr. Murdock’s.
Since The Anderson List: Sexual Abuse in the Archdiocese of New York, was released in February, seven people who say they were sexually abused as children by Paddack from 1984-2002 have come forward, Anderson said. A report was made to the Archdiocese for each, he said, but Paddack’s name is still absent from the Archdiocese list.
When Cardinal Dolan released his list in April he stated, “There is not a single priest or deacon of the Archdiocese of New York against whom there has been a credible and substantiated claim of abuse against a minor currently in ministry.” On Tuesday, Anderson held up a printed version of that statement and read it out loud. Caramanno said it did not make sense. “The words should match up to the actions and I just don’t understand why they don’t,” he said.
Msgr. Murdock, the Archdiocesan Priest and the Compensation Program
Msgr. Murdock worked at several New York parishes from 1918 until he died in 1961. A current Archdiocese of New York priest recently came forward and disclosed that he was sexually abused by Msgr. Murdock at least 30 times when he was 13-15 at one of those parishes, Anderson said. This priest was not present Tuesday and he remains anonymous.
Anderson released a statement written by the priest. In it, he says he did not tell anyone about the abuse until 1992, when he blurted it out to another priest as the clergy sexual abuse scandal was in the news. He otherwise kept it buried deep inside until the Cardinal McCarrick sex abuse scandal broke in 2018 and “the dam I had constructed to kept me from being hurt broke into shambles.”
The priest did some investigating and learned of at least eight others who alleged they were sexually abused as boys by Msgr. Murdock during the period of his alleged abuse. He said he also learned that other priests assigned to the parish while Msgr. Murdock was there knew of the abuse.
Armed with this information, the priest sought help from the Archdiocese of New York Victims Assistance Program and the Archdiocese’s Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (IRCP) beginning on April 7, 2019. The IRCP was set up by the Archdiocese to allow clergy abuse survivors to apply for compensation. The program provided the possibility of compensation but not the release of Archdiocesan priest files showing abusers’ histories or how the hierarchy handled the abuser priests.
The priest found the Victims Assistance and IRCP processes to be cold and focused only on the bottom line. He submitted an 18-page dossier that included a letter summarizing his abuse and letters from eight other students corroborating that they were abused by Msgr. Murdock or knew of others who were. He met with program officials and an Archdiocesan detective. He was made to feel isolated and found the processes to be very secretive. A report drafted by the detective was full of factual errors. He was told that the Archdiocese would submit his information to the district attorney but later found out they did not. There were unnecessary delays, broken promises and impersonal treatment. He saw no spiritual direction or concern about healing from the Archdiocese or the IRCP.
When the priest saw that Msgr. Murdock’s name was not on Cardinal Dolan’s April 26, 2019, list, he “was stunned,” he said in his statement. “Another punch in the stomach.”
The IRCP offered the priest $100,000 this month. He views it as small recompense for 60 years of suffering and, now, distrust of an Archdiocese he’s spent a good part of his life serving. He believes the IRCP process was not designed to help survivors but to eliminate lawsuits, minimize costs and make the process so cumbersome and void of humanity that survivors would not apply. He titled the statement disclosed Tuesday, “What is Missing in ‘Assistance’ for Abuse Victims: God and Care.”
“Through that program, they hurt him worse than he had been [by Msgr. Murdock],” Anderson said.
New York Child Victims Act
New York’s Child Victims Act (CVA) goes into effect on August 14, 2019. It provides a one-year window for persons sexually abused as children whose case would normally be barred by the statute of limitations to file a civil lawsuit against their abusers and the institutions that enabled the abusers.
Cardinal Dolan has never explained why Msgr. Paddack’s name is not on the Archdiocese’s list, said Anderson, who believes the list would have at least five times more names if compiled honestly. Anderson said he plans to bring lawsuits on behalf of Caramanno and the priest alleging abuse by Msgr. Murdock under the CVA.
“They’re doing nothing,” Anderson said of Cardinal Dolan and the Archdiocese. “That’s why we’re doing something.”